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separates Persia from Hindostan; and the prodigy has been exhibited to an astonished world, of a remote island in the European seas pushing forward its mighty arms into the heart of Asia, and carrying its victorious standards into the strongholds of Mahometan faith and the cradle of the Mogul empire. Neither the intricate streams of the Punjab, nor the rapid flow of the Indus, nor the waterless mountains of Affghanistan, nor the far-famed bastions of Ghuznee, have been able to arrest our course. For the first time in the history of the world, the tide of conquest has flowed up from Hindostan into Central Asia; the European race has asserted its wonted superiority over the Asiatic; reversing the march of Timour and Alexander, the sable battalions of the Ganges have appeared as conquerors on the frontiers of Per. sia, and on the confines of the steppes of Samarcand. So marvellous and unprecedented an event is indeed fitted to awaken the contemplation of every thoughtful mind. It speaks volumes as to the mighty step made by the human race in the last five hundred years, and indicates the vast agency and unbounded effects of that free spirit, of which Britain is the centre, which has thus, for a season at least, inverted the heretofore order of nature, made the natives of Hindostan appear as victors in the country of Gengis Khan, and brought the standards of civilized Europe, though in the inverse order, into the footsteps of the phalanx of Alexander.
Though such, however, have been the marvels of the British expedition to Central Asia, yet it is not to be disguised that it was attended by at least equal perils; and never, perhaps, since the British standard appeared on the plains of Hindostan, was their empire in such danger as during the dependence of this glorious but hazardous expedition. It was, literally speaking, to our Indian empire what the expedition to Moscow was to the European dominion of Napoleon. Hitherto, indeed, the result has been different, and we devoutly hope that, in that respect, the dissimilarity will continue. But in both cases the danger was the same. It was the moving forward a large force so far from its resources and the base of its operations, which in both cases constituted the danger. If any serious check had been sustained by our troops in that distant enterprise; if Run
jeet Sing had proved openly treacherous, and assailed our rear and cut off our supplies when the bulk of our force was far advanced in the Affghanistan defiles; if the Bolan pass had been defended with a courage equal to its physical strength; if the powderbags which blew open the gates of Ghuznee had missed fire, or the courage of those who bore them had quailed under the extraordinary perils of their mission; the fate of the expedition would in all probability have been changed, and a disaster as great as the cutting off of Crassus and his legions in Mesopotamia, would have resounded like a clap of thunder through the whole of Asia. Few if any of the brave men who had penetrated into Affghanistan would ever have returned; the Burmese, the Nepaulese would immediately have appeared in arms; the Mahratta and Pindaree horse would have re-assembled round their predatory standards; and, while the British empire in Hindostan rocked to its foundation, an Affghanistan army, directed by Russian officers, and swelled by the predatory tribes of Central Asia, would have poured down, thirsting for plunder and panting for blood, on the devoted plains of Hindostan.
Subsequent events have already revealed, in the clearest manner, the imminent danger in which the English empire in the East was placed at the period of the Affghanistan expedition. So low had the reputation of the British name sunk in the East, that even the Chinese, the most unwarlike and least precipitate of the Asiatic empires, had ventured to offer a signal injury to the British interests, and insult to the British name; and so miserably deficient were Government in any previous preparation for the danger, that it was only twelve months after the insult was offered, that ships of war could be fitted out in the British harbours to attempt to seek for redress. It is now ascertained that a vast conspiracy had been long on foot in the Indian peninsula to overturn our power; in the strongholds of some of the lesser rajahs in the southern part of the peninsula, enormous military stores have been found accumulated; and not a doubt can remain, that, if any serious disaster had happened to our army in Central Asia, not only would the Burmese and Nepaulese have instantly commenced hostilities, but a formidable insurrection would have broken out among the semi-inde
pendent rajahs, in the very vitals of our power. And yet it was while resting on the smouldering fires of such a volcano, that Lord William Bentinck and the Liberal Administration of India thought fit to reduce our military force to one-half, and shake the fidelity of the native troops by the reduction of their pay and allowances.
But this proved hostility of so large a portion of the native powers, suggests matter for further and most serious consideration. It is clear, that although the British Government has, to an immense degree, benefited India, yet it has done so chiefly by the preservation of peace, and the suppression of robbery, throughout its vast dominions; and it is painfully evident, that hardly any steps have yet been taken to reconcile the natives to our dominion, by the extended market which we have opened to their industry. The startling fact which Mr Montgomery Martin* has clearly established, that notwithstanding all that was prophesied of, the trade to India has been, including exports and imports, less for the last twenty years than for the twenty years preceding, clearly demonstrates some vital defect in our colonial policy. Nor is it difficult to see where that error is to be found. We have loaded the produce of India sugar, indigo, &c.-with duties of nearly a hundred per cent, while we have deluged them with our own manufactures at an import duty of two or three per cent. In our anxiety to find a vent for our own manufactures on the continent of Hindostan, we seem to have entirely forgotten that there was another requisite indispensably necessary towards the success of our projects even for our own interests, to give them the means of paying for them. Our conduct towards our colonies, equally with that to foreign states, has exhibited reciprocity all on one side with this material difference, that we have, in our blind anxiety to conciliate foreign states, allowed the whole benefits of the reciprocity treaties to rest with them; while, in our selfish legislation towards our colonial subjects, we have taken the whole to ourselves.
So vast is the importance of our Indian possessions to the British empire, and so boundless the market for her manufactures which might be opened if a truly wise and liberal policy were pursued towards our Indian possessions, that there is nothing more to be regretted than that there has not hitherto issued from the press a popular and readable history of our Indian possessions. Auber has, indeed, with great industry, narrated the leading facts, and supported them by a variety of interesting official documents. But it is in vain to conceal, that his book possesses no attractions to the general reader; and accordingly, although it will always be a standard book of reference to persons studying Indian affairs, it has not and will not produce any impression upon public thought. It was, therefore, with peculiar pleasure that we recently opened the Chapters on Indian History, just published by Mr Thornton, already so favourably known to the eastern world by his work on India, and its State and Prospects. From the cursory examination we have been able to give to this very interesting work, we have only reason to regret that the author has not been more comprehensive in his plan, and that, instead of chapters on British India since the administration of Marquis Wellesley, in one volume, he has not given to the world a full history of the period in three. The work is distinguished by judgment, candour, and research, and is, beyond all doubt, the most valuable that has yet appeared on the recent history of India. We would beg leave only to suggest to the able author, that his next edition should extend to two volumes, and should embrace the whole events of the period of which he treats; in particular, that Lord Hastings' war in 1817 should be more fully enlarged upon; and that greater exertions should be made, by the introduction of picturesque incidents and vivid descriptions, to interest the mass of the nation in a subject daily rising in importance, and on which they must soon be called upon to exercise the functions of direct legislation.
To have engaged in and successfully
* See Colonial Magazine, No. I., article-" Foreign Trade to India," -a newlyestablished miscellany, full of valuable information, and which, if conducted on right principles, will prove of the very highest importance.
accomplished such an undertaking; to have overcome so many and such formidable intervening obstacles, and planted the British guns in triumph on the walls of Herat, is one of the most glorious exploits which have ever graced the long annals of British military prowess. That our soldiers were undaunted in battle and irresistible in the breach has been often proved, in the fields alike of Asiatic and European fame. But here they have exhibited qualities of a totally different kind, and in which hitherto they were not supposed to have been equal to the troops of other states. They have successfully accomplished marches, unparalleled in modern times for their length and hardship; surmounted mountain ranges, compared to which the passage of the St Bernard by Napoleon must sink into insignificance; and solved the great problem, so much debated, and hitherto unascertained in military science, as to the practicability of an European force, with the implements and incumbrances of modern warfare, surmounting the desert and mountain tracts which separate Persia from Hindostan. Involved as we are in the pressing interests of domestic politics, and in the never-ending agitation of domestic concerns, the attention of the British public has been little attracted by this stupendous event; but it is one evidently calculated to fix the attention of the great military nations on the continent, and which will stand forth in imperishable lustre in the annals of history.
There is one result which may and should follow from our undertakings in Affghanistan, which, if properly improved, may render it the means of strengthening, in the most essential manner, our possessions in the East. The Indus and the Himalaya are the natural frontier of our dominions; they are what the Danube and the Rhine were to the Romans, and the former of these streams to Napoleon's empire. The Indus is navigable for fifteen hundred miles, and for nine hundred by steamers of war and mercantile vessels of heavy burden. It descends nearly in a straight line from the impassable barrier of the Himalaya to the Indian ocean; its stream is so rapid, and its surface so broad, that no hostile force can possibly cross it in the face of a powerful defensive marine.
Never was an empire which
had such a frontier for its protection; never was such a base afforded for military operations as on both its banks. Provisions for any number of soldiers; warlike stores to any amount; cannon sufficient for a hundred thousand men, can with ease ascend its waves. Vain is the rapidity of its current; the power of steam has given to civilized man the means of overcoming it; and before many years are expired, British vessels, from every harbour in the United Kingdom, may ascend that mighty stream, and open fresh and hitherto unheard-of markets for British industry in the boundless regions of Central Asia. Now, then, is the time to secure the advantages, and gain the mastery of this mercantile artery and frontier stream; and, by means of fortified stations on its banks, and a powerful fleet of armed steamers in its bosom, to gain that impregnable bar. rier to our Indian possessions, against which, if duly supported by manly vigour at home, and wise administration in our Indian provinces, all the efforts of Northern ambition will beat in vain.
But there is one consideration deserving of especial notice which necessarily follows from this successful irruption. The problem of marching overland to India is now solved; the Russian guns have come down from Petersburg to Herat, and the British have come up from Delhi to the same place. English cannon are now planted in the embrasures, against which, twelve months ago, the Russian shot were directed; and if twenty thousand British could march from Delhi to Candahar and Cabool, forty thousand Russians may march from Astrakan to the Ganges and Calcutta. Our success has opened the path in the East to Russian ambition;-the stages of our ascending army point out the stations for their descending host; and the ease with which our triumph has been effected, will dispel any doubts which they may have entertained as to the practicability of ultimately accomplishing the long-cherished object of their ambition, and conquering in Calcutta the empire of the East. This is the inevitable result of our success; but it is one which should excite no desponding feeling in any British bosom; and we allude to it, not with the selfish, unpatriotic design of chilling the national ardour at our success, but in order, if possible, to arouse the
British people to a sense of the new and more extended duties to which they are called, and the wider sphere of danger and hostility in which they are involved.
It is no longer possible to disguise that the sphere of hostility and diplomatic exertion has been immensely extended by our success in Affghanistan. Hitherto the politics of India have formed, as it were, a world to themselves; a dark range of intervening mountains or arid deserts were supposed to separate Hindostan from Central Asia; and however much we might be disquieted at home by the progress of Russian or French ambition, no serious fears were entertained that either would be able to accomplish the Quixotic exploit of passing the western range of the Himalaya mountains. Now, however, this veil has been rent asunder-this mountain screen has been penetrated. The Rus sian power in Persia, and the British in India, now stand face to face; the advanced posts of both have touched Herat; the high-road from St Petersburg to Calcutta has been laid open by British hands. The advanced position we have gained must now be maintained; if we retire, even from tributary or allied states, the charm of our invincibility is gone; the day when the god Terminus recoils before a foreign enemy, is the commencement of a rapid decline. We do not bring forward this consideration in order to blame the expedition; but in or der to show into what a contest, and with what a power, it has necessarily brought us. Affghanistan is the outpost of Russia; Dost- Mohammed, now exiled from his throne, was a vassal of the Czar; and we must now contend for the empire of the East, not with the rajahs of India, but the Muscovite battalions.
The reality of these anticipations as to the increased amount of the danger of a collision with Russia, which has arisen from the great approximation of our outposts to theirs, which the Affghanistan expedition has occasioned, is apparent. Already Russia has taken the alarm, and the expedition against Khiva shows that she has not less the inclination, than she unquestionably has the power, of amply providing for herself against what she deems the impending danger. No one can for a moment suppose
that that expedition is really intended to chastise the rebellious Khan. Thirty thousand men, and a large train of artillery, are not sent against an obscure chieftain in Tartary, whom a few regiments of Cossacks would soon reduce to obedience. A glance at the map will at once show what was the real object in view. Khiva is situated on the Oxus, and the Oxus flows to the north-west from the mountains which take their rise from the northern boundary of Cabool. Its stream is navigable to the foot of the Affghanistan mountains, and from the point where water communication ceases, it is a passage of only five or six days to the valley of Cabool. therefore, the Russians once establish themselves at Cabool, they will have no difficulty in reaching the possessions of Shah Shoojah; and their establish ment will go far to outweigh the influence established by the British, by the Affghanistan expedition, among the Affghanistan tribes. Already, if recent accounts can be relied on, this effect has become apparent. Mahommed, expelled from his kingdom, has found support among the Tartar tribes; backed by their support, he has already re-appeared over the hills, and regained part of his dominions, and the British troops, on their return to Affghanistan, have already received orders to halt. Let us hope that it is not in our case, as it was in that of the French at Moscow, that when they thought the campaign over it was only going to commence.
Regarding, then, our success in Afghanistan as having accelerated by several years the approach of this great contest, it becomes the British nation well to consider what preparations they have made at home to maintain it. Have we equipped and manned a fleet capable of withstanding the formidable armament which Nicholas has always ready for immediate operations in the Baltic? Have we five-and-twenty ships of the line and thirty frigates ready to meet the thirty ships of the line and eighteen frigates which Nicholas has always equipped for sea at Cronstadt? Have we thirty thousand men in London ready to meet the thirty thousand veterans whom the Czar has constantly prepared to step on board his fleet on the shores of the Baltic? Alas! we have none of these things. We could not,
to save London from destruction or the British empire from conquest, fit out three ships of the line to protect the mouth of the Thames, or assemble ten thousand men to save Woolwich or Portsmouth_from conflagration. What between Radical economy in our army estimates, Whig parsimony in our naval preparations, and Chartist violence in our manufacturing cities, we have neither a naval nor a military force to protect ourselves from destruction. All that Sir Charles Adam, one of the Lords of the Admiralty, could say on this subject last session of Parliament was, that we had three ships of the line and three guard-ships to protect the shores of England. Never was such a proof afforded that we had sunk down from the days of giants into those of pigmies, than the use of such an argument by a lord of the British Admiralty. Why, thirty years ago, we sent thirty-nine ships of the line to attack the enemy's naval station at Antwerp, without raising the blockade of one of his harbours, from Gibraltar to the North Cape. Herein, then, lies the monstrous absurdity, the unparalleled danger of our present national policy, that we are vigorous even to temerity in the East, and parsimonious even to pusillanimity in the West; and that while we give Russia a fair pretext for hostility, and perhaps some ground for complaint in the centre of Asia, we make no preparation whatever to resist her hostility on the shores of England.
The contrast between the marvellous vigour of our Indian Government and the niggardly spirit with which all our establishments are starved down at home, would be inconceivable if we did not recollect by what opposite motives our Government is regulated in Hindostan and in the British islands. Taxation in India falls upon the inha bitants, who are unrepresented; taxation at home falls upon the ten-pounders, who have a numerical majority in Parliament. We never doubted the inclination of a democracy to dip their hands in other people's pockets; what we doubted was their inclination, save in the last extremity, to put them in their own.
Disregard of the future, devotion to present objects, has, in all ages, been the characteristic of the masses of mankind. We need not wonder that
the British populace are distinguished by the well-known limited vision of their class, when all the eloquence of Demosthenes failed in inducing the most enlightened republic of antiquity to take any measures to ward off the danger arising from the ambition of Philip of Macedon; and all the wisdom of Washington was unable to communicate to the greatest republic of modern times, strength or foresight sufficient to prevent its capital from being taken, and its arsenals pillaged by a British division not three thousand strong. Unless, however, the Conservative press can succeed in rousing the British public to a sense of their danger on this subject, and the Conservative leaders in Parliament take up the matter earnestly and vigorously, it may safely be pronounced that the days of the British empire are numbered.
No empire can possibly exist for any length of time which provokes hostility in its distant possessions, while it neglects preparation in the heart of its power; which buckles on its gloves and puts on the helmet, but leaves the breastplate and the cuirass behind. If a Russian fleet of thirty ships of the line appears off the Nore, it will not be by deriding their prowess, or calling them a 66 pasteboard fleet," that the danger will be averted from the arsenals and the treasures of England. The Russian sailors do not possess any thing like the nautical skill or naval habits of the British; but they are admirably trained to ball practice, they possess the native courage of their race, and they will stand to their guns with any sailors in Europe. Remember the words of Nelson, "Lay yourself alongside of a Frenchman, but out-manœuvre a Russian."
The manifest and not yet terminated dangers with which the Affghanistan expedition was attended, should operate as a warning, and they will be cheaply purchased if they prove a timely one, to the British people, of the enormous dangers, not merely to the national honour and independence, but to the vital pecuniary interests of every individual in the state, of continuing any longer the pernicious system of present economy, and total disregard of future danger, which for twenty years has characterised every department of our Government. Why is it that England has now been com